By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) – Hidden digital camera footage showing to point out South Korea’s First Woman accepting a Dior bag as a present has plunged President Yoon Suk Yeol and his social gathering into an argument which will threaten their bid to reclaim a parliamentary majority in April’s election.

Some members of Yoon’s conservative Folks Energy Social gathering (PPP) have urged the president and his spouse, Kim Keon Hee, to apologise for the incident dubbed by native media “Dior bag scandal” and admit receiving the purse was, at the very least, inappropriate, within the hope of placing the matter to relaxation.

Yoon’s workplace mentioned it had no info to share.

By opting to stay silent and, on the weekend, pushing for the social gathering chief to resign because of a disagreement over some members’ stance, Yoon dangers making a flash level that might find yourself costing PPP the April 10 election, analysts say.

“It’s a political bombshell,” mentioned Rhee Jong-hoon, a political analyst. “The Kim Keon Hee dangers are solely going to get larger.”

Yoon gained an in depth election in 2022 however his PPP is a minority within the parliament, which is managed by the rival Democratic Social gathering.

Analysts mentioned when Kim, because the partner of a authorities official, accepted the purse, which had a price ticket of three million gained ($2,250), she might have violated an anti-bribery regulation.

The president’s supporters say Kim is the sufferer of an unlawful plot to set her up and a smear marketing campaign.

The case surfaced in November when a YouTube channel aired a video clip secretly recorded by a Korean American pastor with a hidden digital camera as he visited Kim and handed her the purse.

The pastor, Rev. Abraham Choi, who has been concerned in non secular exchanges with North Korea and is an advocate of engagement with Pyongyang, mentioned he initially sought a gathering with Kim out of concern for Yoon’s hardline North Korea coverage.

Choi mentioned whereas Kim was a household acquaintance, her response to discussions over potential luxurious presents – together with Chanel cosmetics he claims he gave her of their first assembly – led him to consider such presents have been the one option to safe an viewers.

“You would possibly say they have been like an entry go, a ticket for a gathering (with Kim),” Choi informed Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Yoon’s workplace mentioned it had no info to supply when requested about Choi’s claims.

An unnamed presidential official informed Yonhap information company final week that Choi had intentionally approached Kim with the intention of illegally filming utilizing his household connections, and that presents to the couple are dealt with and saved as property of the federal government.

After a primary assembly, Choi mentioned he grew to become involved about Kim’s position within the administration and labored with a reporter on the YouTube channel, which airs left-wing information and commentary, to movie her accepting the expensive bag throughout a second go to.

“A traditional individual would then say, ‘Reverend, I am unable to see you when you do that,'” he mentioned. “However the First Woman gave me the place and time.”

Kim additionally stays mired in allegations of inventory worth manipulation from about 12 years in the past, a case for which opposition-controlled parliament voted final month to nominate a particular prosecutor to research.

PPP opposed the invoice as a plot by the DP to hamper an investigation into its chief, Lee Jae-myung, and his corruption prices, which he denies. Yoon vetoed the invoice as politically motivated.

In 2021, Kim made a public apology after months of allegations of falsified skilled report and plagiarism in her Ph.D. thesis overshadowed Yoon’s marketing campaign for president.


A variety of PPP members have argued public sentiment is targeted on Kim and never the hidden digital camera sting, reflecting rising concern the problem is leaving a foul impression with voters.

Stress between Yoon’s workplace and his social gathering boiled over final week when a member of its management, Kim Kyung-yul, likened the state of affairs to the notoriety of Marie Antoinette, the French Queen recognized for her profligacy.

Native information stories mentioned Yoon was furious and needed to take away the social gathering’s chief, Han Dong-hoon, marking at the very least a quick cut up between the president and an official extensively seen as a protégé and shut affiliate.

In a ballot launched by YTN cable information performed this week, 69% of respondents mentioned Yoon wants to clarify his place concerning the controversy across the first girl.

One other ballot by the monetary publication Information Tomato in December confirmed 53% of respondents consider Kim acted inappropriately, whereas 27% mentioned she was caught in a lure set as much as embarrass her.

“Most of the people thinks, ‘Okay, it might be a lure, however why did she take it (the bag) anyway?'” mentioned Shin Yul, political science professor at Myongji College.

($1 = 1,333.6700 gained)

(Reporting by Ju-min Park and Jack Kim, further reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Modifying by Michael Perry, Ed Davies and Josh Smith)

As we speak Information Prime Newsmaac


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